Milan take on Novara on Sunday in the hope that they can quickly put their derby day defeat to Inter to rest and carry on their otherwise impressive season. This game should not be a problem for them as the Rossoneri already defeated Novara in midweek, courtesy of Alexandre Pato and Stephan El Shaarawy.
On first impressions, this dismissive attitude might sound a tad unfair: after all, the promoted side forced the game into extra-time, and were certainly not outclassed either by Milan at the San Siro, nor Inter, who they defeated earlier this season.
Then again, one cannot forget that Milan’s already stretched squad wasn’t going to try too hard in the Coppa and that they still dominated a generally uninspiring match.
Moreover, games of this kind are Massimiliano Allegri’s bread and butter. The derby, after all, only underlines Milan’s allergy to the other big teams, and the Rossoneri are still far more likely to end the season ahead of neighbours Inter.
This game should, therefore,be a formality for the visitors, who are likely to take the lead in the first half before increasing the gap in the second. They are interestingly priced to net more goals in the latter half than they are before the interval (at 13/10), and can count on Zlatan Ibrahimovic – another man who didn’t turn up on Sunday – to help break the ice with another killer pass.
Who will he find in the box? There are two options: either he’ll go for the likes of Antonio Nocerino (17/4, six goals this season) with a sweet cut-back, or chest down another long ball to El Shaarawy (9/4), a man who has recently rediscovered the lethal touch which earned him the nickname “the Pharaoh” back in his days with Padova. Can he be trusted with the free £25 bet bwin offers to customers who have opened a new account? You bet he can, with a profit of £81.25 the likely reward.
With Allegri likely to spare some of his top players for this one, the young starlet will get an opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the squad – at least until Carlos Tevez or Maxi Lopez reach Milanello.
After all, the manager has to pick a Champions League squad within the next few days – and El Shaarawy needs to prove he can be a part of it. Even were he not to start, he is likely to be given a run in the second half, which could of course attract some interest, seeing as his odds to net last (8/1) are quite tempting, to say the least.
Novara, for their part, are unlikely to snatch a victory. As previously mentioned, Milan are generally more motivated and dangerous in Serie A, as they have their eyes fixed on the ultimate prize. More importantly, Juventus have a tricky away tie in Bergamo, and Allegri doubtless sees this as an opportunity which cannot go amiss.
Still, this does not mean that Novara won’t make a nuisance of themselves, especially against an opponent whose defence committed yet another blunder at the weekend to gift Inter their bragging rights: at 29/20, back the home side to trouble Abbiati on one occasion, although some braver punters are likely hoping that lightning can strike twice, and they could back Novara to snatch a second draw, quoted at 29/10.
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